February 28th, 2016
Image, News Source: Telegraph
“Campus-related Barbarism spread from JNU to Burdwan University in Bengal this evening when undergraduate students were assaulted with nail-studded batons by a group, one of whose members confessed that he had been summoned by a Trinamul varsity union leader,” Telegraph stated.
Around 700 students of Burdwan university have been attacked by members of its non-teaching staff and some “outsider” goons on Friday evening. The students were agitating against erroneous results of B.A. second-year exams which were declared few days ago, and were demanding that the third-year examinations scheduled in March be postponed. Around 11 students have been injured during the assault and have been admitted to hospital.
As it happened:
The entire episode bears some resemblance to the incidents taken place in Hyderabad Central University and JNU, in the sense that the inflictors and the assaulted group are backed by rival political parties. Three days before the incident, a group of students under the banner of Students’ Federation of India (SFI), which is backed by the CPI-M, had protested against erroneous results when they had allegedly ransacked university premises, prompting the Vice-Chancellor to call police and unleash lathicharge. Two Left members were also arrested for damaging university property. On Thursday, another group of students belonging to around 70 colleges of the Burdwan university sat on hunger strike before the administrative building, demanding postponing of March examinations and rectification of previous year’s results.
On Friday evening, non-teaching staff members from Sara Bangla Shiksha Bandhu Samiti, an organisation affiliated to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), entered the campus and switched off the lights. They started beating up the students with nail-studded clubs in a bid to disperse them off and end the hunger strike. Some students spotted goons not belonging to the campus helping the attackers. They also alleged the local TMC leader Sitaram Mukerjee, who is also the secretary of the university unit of Shiksha Bandhu Samiti, to be giving orders to the attackers. It is not clear whether these students, who started agitation on Thursday, were members of the SFI or not.
The newspaper Telegraph reported that the news channel ABP Ananda caught hold of an attacker who identified himself as a Trinamool supporter and said he was called on by Sitaram to remove the protestors. The Indian Express reported that TMC has denied its involvement in the assault, and the police have said that no official complaint has been lodged by either side till Saturday.
Statement by Vice-Chancellor:
Amidst such ruckus on the campus, it is generally expected from the V-C to take control of the situation and ensure that no violence takes place. However, Smriti Kumar Sarkar, the V-C of Burdwan university, seems to be justifying the act. He alleged that the students had blocked the main gate and also the gates to the offices of the registrar, pro-VC and the controller, because of which the staff members were unable to get tiffin or reach their homes. He told ABP Ananda, “The employees were stuck inside their offices since morning. They did not have food and it was raining. Some had sick relatives at home who had to be given medicines. But none of them could leave. The employees had run out of patience.”
The Logical Indian take:
The entire heartwrenching incident seems to be politically motivated. After all, why would anyone resort to spiked sticks and outside goons to disperse protesting students, when a few days back they were successfully dispersed by police? Even if the students may have created nuisance by blocking the entry gates, they could have been persuaded with negotiations. It is shameful that outside people flashing sticks were able to enter the campus and were not stopped by the security. The college administration should have acted on the attackers swiftly. That they didn’t do it, seems to suggest that they might have acted at the behest of the ruling TMC party, or might have feared to act against the TMC-backed attackers. At the same time, the alleged ransacking of university premises by SFI-backed students on Tuesday was uncalled for and must have been avoided.
The Logical Indian is deeply saddened by the trend of violence across college campuses in the country which seem to have become grounds for political slugfest. We condemn this incident in the strongest terms and urge the state government to put aside its political inclinations and probe the matter fairly. There is a growing need to protect our educational institutions from the darker shades of politics, and we hope that steps will be taken in the longer run to ensure the sanctity of higher education in the country.
– Abhishek Mittal
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